Ridge Vents vs Box Vents: A Comparison

Much like the rest of your house, your attic also has ventilation needs that must be fulfilled. Keeping airflow stable throughout the upper portion of your house affects the rest of the portion too. When it comes to giving proper ventilation to your attic, you have multiple options out there to choose from. The most common types of attic vents are two, ridge and box vents. In this piece, you’ll be learning about the differences between these two and we’ll also be doing a brief comparison to help you choose the right one.

Before we dive into the comparison, here is a table to give you an idea of the differences between ridge and box vents.

Ridge Vent Box Vent
Installed on the peak of the roof Installed at the slope of the roof
Eliminates internal rising air and replaces it with fresh outdoor air Gets rid of humid air through natural means of airflow
Usually has a plastic body Mostly comes in thin metal sheets
Not prone to leakage Prone to leakage
Expensive Affordable
Ridge vent vs box vent
ridge vent vs box vent

What are ridge vents?

Ridge or continuous vents are a modern prototype of traditional vents that are installed at the highest point of your roof. Ridge vents are installed to give your attic ventilation, primarily by letting fresh cold air in and warm humid air out. This is the ideal form of ventilation because it does not require electricity to get the job done.

ridge vents on a roof
ridge vents on a roof

As we all know how the stack effect works, these ridge vents help the internal moist air escape through them. At the same time, outdoor dry air is making its way into your attic through the underside and downwards to the rest of the structure. Usually, ridge vents have plastic bodies and go hand in hand with soffit vents.

Ridge vents are mostly extended throughout the entire length of the roof and can barely be noticed from far away because of their blend. As for the installation, it requires the peak of the roof to be cut open where the ridge vent will be placed. With the help of ridge cap shingles, the ridge vent is then closed tightly to prevent disruption of airflow. 

Pros of ridge vents

Efficient and Effective

Ridge vents are known for being both efficient and effective in providing significant air circulation in the attic. They exchange polluted air with fresh air without needing an energy source to do so. 

Blend in with the roof

Since these vents are installed as an extension of the roof line, they fit pretty well with the rest of the roof, hence the name continuous vents. Unlike traditional vents, there is no elevation of any kind from anywhere, giving your roof a good look. 

No entry of pests

Ridge vents are ideal when it comes to preventing small animals or insects from getting inside. You’re also saved from debris ending up in the vents because of their unique design.

Cons

Expensive

Continuous vents require a complex and burdensome installation process that contributes to the overall cost of these vents. They need to be installed at the peak of your rooftop as an addition, which is why you first have to cut open a line.

What are box vents?

Box vents or static vents are traditional vents that you often see popping out from the back of rooftops. These vents have the same purpose as other roof vents, to provide proper air circulation to your attic. However, these are not placed at the top of the rooftop, instead, they are placed on holes made on the side of the roof.

A box vent installed on a roof
A box vent on a roof

Unlike ridge vents, box vents must be installed on rooftops on multiple holes, since one box vent certainly won’t be enough to keep your attic lively. Furthermore, they use natural air for purifying your attic’s atmosphere. Once again, there is no involvement of energy in the process but the outcome here is different.

Since box vents require holes to be cut on your roof, they are not prone to invasions from pests and debris. These vents are usually made from thin metal sheets which can catch rust if you fall behind on maintenance. In terms of price, box vents are cheaper and don’t cost a fortune to be installed.

Pros of box vents

Light on the pocket

One of the biggest benefits box vents bring to the table is their price. Their affordability is the reason why they’re still preferred to date, despite better options being out there in the market.

Gets the job done

Box vents use natural air movement to cleanse your attic’s atmosphere. If you’re not dealing with extraordinary airflow needs, then rest assured a box vent will suffice.

Installation is simple

Though box vents do require holes to be made in the roof, but at the end of the day, their installation is still not as costly as other options. If done properly, it will turn out to be a good investment.

Cons of box vents

Not the most effective

Since box vents are reliant upon natural convection, you should not expect too much from them. At most, they can direct humidity and moisture out of your house. If you want above-average results, then these vents might not be the best option.

More prone to damage

Due to their body popping out from the roof, box vents are prone to damage caused by storms and hurricanes. There’s also a chance of small animals sneaking in unless you set up barriers on each vent.

Do ridge vents work better than box vents?

Despite box vents being more popular and widely preferred, ridge vents are superior in almost every aspect. Especially in terms of performance, ridge vents deliver extraordinary results since they don’t just remove humid air but also replace it with better air. Contrasting box vents, these vents are installed at the highest point of your roof, making disposal of warm air easier than ever. 

In terms of durability, they are leak-resistant and less prone to damage during extreme weather situations. To finish off, we’d also like to add that 1 square ft of ridge ventilation suffices for every 300 square ft of attic space. Whereas 1 square ft of box ventilation is enough for just 150 square ft of attic space. So, ridge vents deliver around double the results of box vents.

Bottom line

Ventilation is not something you should compromise on because it’s about the well-being of your house as well as your loved ones. Though ridge vents are the winner in this comparison, it would be unfair to say box vents don’t work at all. In some regions where the climate conditions are different, maybe box vents would be a better option. Nonetheless, if these two don’t seem to get the job done for you then there are other options too. We’ll be back soon with more informational reads on exhaust fans for you.

Charles John

A novice DIYer who learns about home ventilation. I am a mechanical engineer and have a basic knowledge of HVAC systems but I learn continuously to make myself the best blogger in that space.

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